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A spring guide to Bellingham mountain biking

With 65 miles of mountain bike trails, knowing where to start can be daunting

The Cedar Dust Pro Line at Gailbraith Mountain, Bellingham, WA. This trail has the largest jumps in the Cedar Dust skills area. // Photo By Spencer Arps

Bellingham offers a wide variety of mountain biking with fast flowy single track, steep technical descents, progressive jump lines and more. 

Galbraith Mountain, located between Samish Way and Lakeway Drive, is both Bellingham’s largest mountain bike trail network and one of the biggest in the Pacific Northwest. 

Ryan Josyln, trail crew leader for the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, said Galbraith has something for everyone – with 65 miles of trails spanning 3,000 acres, the options are almost limitless.

For those looking for a smooth and flowy trail, Unemployment Line on the south side of Galbraith is a great place to start. This flow trail offers big sweeping corners, table-top jumps, gap jumps and views of Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands. 

Joysln said two other parts of a classic Galbraith lap include Evolution and Atomic Dog. 

Ryan Askey, a Jack’s Bicycle Center employee, also said Evolution is a crowd favorite.

“Obviously the best trail on Galbraith is dependent on what types of trail a person likes to ride, but I would typically say Evolution on the south side or Orient Express on the north side,” Askey said.

Unemployment Line is a great place to start as a beginner because it is smooth, wide and fairly flat. However, it is also a great track for advanced mountain bikers because it offers optional gap jumps and technical features. 

The north side trail SST may be a good starting place for riders looking for something smooth and fast.

“If you are on the north side then definitely ride SST or Air Chair,” said Joysln.

SST offers 108 meters of descent over 1.4 kilometers including optional drops, jumps, loads of corners and views overlooking downtown Bellingham. 

For a first-time rider, the Bunny Trails on the south side of Galbraith are a great starting point. With a green trail rating — the easiest level — and easy accessibility, the Bunny Trails are a perfect place to get the hang of mountain biking.

Being a beginner can be intimidating. Ben Hansford, a Bellingham photographer and avid member of the Galbraith mountain biking community said the culture can be daunting at first but in reality is accepting. 

“In my experience, the riders here are always willing to stop and offer a hand or help if you've gotten yourself into a predicament,” Hansford said. 

For more advanced technical riders, trails like Irish Death, Devilcross, and Space Wolf are great options. 

Irish Death, a black diamond or high difficulty trail, is chock-full of roots, rocks, shoots and overall chunk. Riders looking to smash some high-speed technical descents will find that in Irish Death. 

Devilcross, another black diamond trail, offers almost 200 meters of descent over 2.2 kilometers. Devilcross is full of technical features including rock rolls, roots and drops. There are more slow, off-balance features on Devilcross when compared to Irish Death, which makes riding the trails quite different. 

For someone seeking big jumps and fast corners, head to Mohawk. Constructed by Shire Built, a Whatcom County-based private trail-building company, this trail offers more technical jump features than any other full trail on the mountain. 

Blue Steele is Bellingham's biggest jump line, created to be a miniature Fest Style line; these jumps are very big and should only be attempted by confident riders.

“If you're still feeling like you could use some even bigger air, head over to Blue Steel for a pro-level jump line built by the legendary Niko Vink,” said Joysln.

For those who don’t have a mountain bike but still want to get out onto the trails, there are options available. Jack’s Bicycle Center, located on Iowa Street, offers a range of mountain bike rental options including full-suspension, electric and hard-tail mountain bikes. Western’s Outdoor Center also offers mountain bikes for rental.

Spencer Arps

Spencer Arps (he/him) is a campus life reporter for the Front. He is a semi-professional mountain bike athlete, product photographer, Bellingham born and raised, and enjoyer of Whatcom County's natural beauty. On a daily basis you can find him picking bluegrass tunes, holding a camera or riding his bike.  

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